The Starbucks on the corner of 100th and Columbus belongs to the small NYC neighborhood of Manhattan Valley. Essentially, this is where the Upper West Side meets West Harlem. Broadway is to the west, a small shopping district is to the south, Central Park is one block east, and Harlem is just north. The neighborhood — which was once called the Bloomingdale District — got its name because this area is a geographical depression. From Columbus Ave, I can literally see the street slope down to the south and rise back up to the north.
The Starbucks is at the northern edge of a small shopping area that contrasts greatly with the towering apartment buildings just north of 100th street. But then again, that’s gentrification for you. This location is not too big and not too small. It’s just the right size Starbucks with an adequate amount of seating on one side of the L-shaped interior. You can choose to sit at a low bar and gaze out the window and watch the southbound traffic. Or if you’re lucky enough, you can grab a seat at the long sofa with attached tables and power outlets. Most likely though, the fluctuating crowd will determine your seat, and you’ll take whatever is open.
Today I visited my 200th Starbucks for this blog.
100 Starbucks ago, I was sitting at Grand Central Terminal, half-way through my endeavor and somewhat optimistic that I could accomplish the task at hand. 100 Starbucks before that, I sat down at my first Starbucks on 52nd & 8th Ave and — quite frankly — had no idea what I was getting myself into. But here I am. 200 Starbucks into the blog and less than 10 away from visiting all the Starbucks in Manhattan. I’ll drink to that.
The Starbucks on 53rd & Park Ave is actually located inside a privately owned public seating area called Park Avenue Plaza. It’s just west of Park, and there are entrances both on 52nd and 53rd. The Starbucks is not a distinct store, but a kiosk style Starbucks located in the northeast corner of the space. There are office buildings above and other features include a book store, public restrooms, a children’s winter play place and a waterfall wall (pictured above).
Unfortunately, this Starbucks does not offer WiFi, so if you’re coming here to get out of the cold, bring a book not a laptop. Also come early. Although the space is available 7-days a week until 10pm, the Starbucks is only open until 6:30pm on weekdays, which only makes sense. After all, it’s not like there isn’t another Starbucks just a few yards west on 53rd street.
Today ends my exploration of the neighborhoods known as the Heights, and apparently I inadvertently saved the best for last. I’ve been to Morningside Heights, Washington Heights and Hudson Heights, and today I’m up on 145th street near the neighborhood of Hamilton Heights.
I’m currently sitting at the Starbucks on the corner of 145th and Bradhurst. Directly across the street to the west is the small — currently snow-covered — park known as Jackie Robinson Park, where apparently residents like to build snowmen (see above). And it is that park that separates this Starbucks from the large neighborhood of Hamilton Heights and its sub-neighborhood of Sugar Hill. But since Starbucks up here in the Heights are so scattered, this is the closest location to serve the residents of these two neighborhoods.
In case you were wondering, yes, the Hamilton Heights neighborhood was named after Founder Father Alexander Hamilton — way back when there was still farmland here in Manhattan. But the story I find more interesting is that of the smaller neighborhood of Sugar Hill. The neighborhood got its name because it became the home to wealthy African Americans during the Harlem Renaissance. Both it’s geographical height — yes, it is a hill — and the contrasting wealth of its residents made life in this neighborhood look sweet as sugar, and it has since become a municipal historic district of Manhattan.
One thing I find interesting about this Starbucks on 145th Street is that it is not directly atop a subway station. All the other Starbucks in the Heights of Manhattan have (for obvious reasons) quite literally followed the major subway lines. But this Starbucks is a few blocks between the A/C, B/D and the 3 stations. Perhaps that’s why it’s also larger and more accommodating then the other Upper Manhattan Starbucks. This one was designed for more than just a spot to grab your commuter coffee; here you can sit and stay a while. And judging by the sizable crowd and consistent lack of open seats, I would say I’m not the only one who feels this way.
In fact, today there is a sign on the door stating that their espresso machine is broken and they can only serve coffees and teas — but the crowd is still coming on strong.
The Starbucks at Platt street and William street in FiDi is an anomaly. From the outside, it looks amazing. It’s exterior is all platted glass. There’s an interior Starbucks sign that curves along with the exterior structure. It’s located inside the beautifully decorated courtyard of the large office building at One William Street. And everything in close proximity seems to glow due to the luminous pillars and overhead lights of the courtyard.
Unfortunately, the magic fades once you enter the Starbucks itself. The structure of the lobby curves along with the arching exterior. And since there’s only one entrance, this causes a good deal of bottlenecking at the end of the line where patrons are waiting to pick up there drinks. I arrived at 5pm today and the crowd was not too bad, but I can’t imagine what this Starbucks looks like during the morning rush.
Don’t get me wrong. This Starbucks is beautifully decorated. But its size and design flaws seem somewhat impractical for a busy FiDi location.
I was actually on my way to a different Starbucks in FiDi when I passed by the Starbucks on Murray and Church. I had to do a double-take to make sure I hadn’t already been to and rated this Starbucks before. Am I losing track of where I’ve been? Maybe… After all, I’ve been to over 170 Starbucks. Deja vu at this point is to be expected.
Once inside the Murray and Church Starbucks, I knew for sure I hadn’t seen this location before. On one of the seating area walls is a long framed picture that represents Lower Manhattan (pictured above). I’ve seen a few similar pictures at Starbucks throughout the city, but this one was definitely unique.
This Starbucks is definitely a good size and is well equipped with seating. The restroom line was much longer than the coffee line, and I had no problem finding a seat at the communal table. Unfortunately, the WiFi was atrocious. At first I thought it was down, but after 10-minutes of playing around with it, my computer finally connected. Still… the connection was so slow I didn’t stay online for more than five minutes before giving up.